Bowel Wars: Hydrogen Sulfide vs. Butyrate

Bowel Wars: Hydrogen Sulfide vs. Butyrate
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Sulfur dioxide preservatives in dried fruit, sulfites in wine, and the putrefaction of undigested animal protein in the colon can release hydrogen sulfide, the rotten egg gas associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

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There’s a take-off on the industry slogan, “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner – Beef: It’s What’s Rotting in Your Colon.” I saw this on a shirt once with some friends, and I was such the party pooper—no pun intended—explaining to everyone how meat is fully digested in the small intestine, and never makes it down into the colon. It’s no fun hanging out with biology geeks—but, I was wrong!

It’s been estimated that with a typical Western diet, up to 12 grams of protein per day can escape digestion, and when it reaches the colon, it can be turned into toxic substances like ammonia. This degradation of undigested protein in the colon is called putrefaction, so a little meat can actually end up putrefying in our colon. The problem is that some of the by-products of this putrefaction can be toxic.

It’s generally accepted that carbohydrate fermentation—the fiber and resistant starches that reach our colon—results in beneficial effects for the host because of the generation of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, whereas protein fermentation is considered detrimental for us. Protein fermentation mainly occurs in the lower end of the colon, when carbohydrates get depleted, and results in the production of potentially toxic metabolites. Perhaps that’s why we see more colorectal cancer and ulcerative colitis lower down, because that’s where the protein is putrefying. The simplest strategy to reduce the degree of potentially harmful compounds by protein fermentation is probably a reduction in dietary protein intake.

But, the accumulation of these harmful byproducts of protein metabolism may be attenuated by the fermentation of undigested plant matter. This study showed that if you give people foods containing resistant starch—starch resistant to small intestine digestion so it can feed our good bacteria down in our colon–foods such as cooked beans, peas, lentils, raw oatmeal, and cold pasta, you can block the accumulation of potentially harmful byproducts of protein metabolism. The more starch ended up in the stool, the less ammonia, for example.

But there’s protein in plants too. The difference is that animal proteins tend to have more sulfur-containing amino acids like methionine, which can be turned into hydrogen sulfide in our colon–the rotten egg gas that may play a role in the development of inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis, as I’ve covered previously.

The toxic effects of hydrogen sulfide appear to be mediated through blocking the ability of our colon cells from utilizing butyrate, which is what our good bacteria make from the fiber we eat. So it’s like this constant battle in our colon between the bad metabolites of protein, hydrogen sulfide, and the good metabolites of carbohydrates, butyrate. Using human colon samples, they were able to show that the adverse effects of sulfide could be reversed by butyrate. So we can either cut down on meat, eat more plants, or both.

But there’s two ways hydrogen sulfide can be produced. Though it’s mainly present in our large intestine as a result of the breakdown of sulfur-containing proteins, rotten egg gas can also be generated from inorganic sulfur preservatives like sulfites and sulfur dioxide.

Sulfur dioxide is used as a preservative in dried fruit, and sulfites are added to wines. We can avoid sulfur additives by reading labels or by just choosing organic, since by law they’re forbidden from organic fruits and beverages. Cabbage family vegetables naturally have some sulfur compounds, but thankfully, after following more than 100,000 women for over 25 years, cruciferous vegetables were not associated with elevated colitis risk.

But because of the animal protein and preservative-laden processed foods, the standard American diet may have five or six times more sulfur than a diet centered around unprocessed plant foods, which may help explain the rarity of inflammatory bowel disease among those eating traditional whole food plant-based diets.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to OpenClips via Pixabay.

There’s a take-off on the industry slogan, “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner – Beef: It’s What’s Rotting in Your Colon.” I saw this on a shirt once with some friends, and I was such the party pooper—no pun intended—explaining to everyone how meat is fully digested in the small intestine, and never makes it down into the colon. It’s no fun hanging out with biology geeks—but, I was wrong!

It’s been estimated that with a typical Western diet, up to 12 grams of protein per day can escape digestion, and when it reaches the colon, it can be turned into toxic substances like ammonia. This degradation of undigested protein in the colon is called putrefaction, so a little meat can actually end up putrefying in our colon. The problem is that some of the by-products of this putrefaction can be toxic.

It’s generally accepted that carbohydrate fermentation—the fiber and resistant starches that reach our colon—results in beneficial effects for the host because of the generation of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, whereas protein fermentation is considered detrimental for us. Protein fermentation mainly occurs in the lower end of the colon, when carbohydrates get depleted, and results in the production of potentially toxic metabolites. Perhaps that’s why we see more colorectal cancer and ulcerative colitis lower down, because that’s where the protein is putrefying. The simplest strategy to reduce the degree of potentially harmful compounds by protein fermentation is probably a reduction in dietary protein intake.

But, the accumulation of these harmful byproducts of protein metabolism may be attenuated by the fermentation of undigested plant matter. This study showed that if you give people foods containing resistant starch—starch resistant to small intestine digestion so it can feed our good bacteria down in our colon–foods such as cooked beans, peas, lentils, raw oatmeal, and cold pasta, you can block the accumulation of potentially harmful byproducts of protein metabolism. The more starch ended up in the stool, the less ammonia, for example.

But there’s protein in plants too. The difference is that animal proteins tend to have more sulfur-containing amino acids like methionine, which can be turned into hydrogen sulfide in our colon–the rotten egg gas that may play a role in the development of inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis, as I’ve covered previously.

The toxic effects of hydrogen sulfide appear to be mediated through blocking the ability of our colon cells from utilizing butyrate, which is what our good bacteria make from the fiber we eat. So it’s like this constant battle in our colon between the bad metabolites of protein, hydrogen sulfide, and the good metabolites of carbohydrates, butyrate. Using human colon samples, they were able to show that the adverse effects of sulfide could be reversed by butyrate. So we can either cut down on meat, eat more plants, or both.

But there’s two ways hydrogen sulfide can be produced. Though it’s mainly present in our large intestine as a result of the breakdown of sulfur-containing proteins, rotten egg gas can also be generated from inorganic sulfur preservatives like sulfites and sulfur dioxide.

Sulfur dioxide is used as a preservative in dried fruit, and sulfites are added to wines. We can avoid sulfur additives by reading labels or by just choosing organic, since by law they’re forbidden from organic fruits and beverages. Cabbage family vegetables naturally have some sulfur compounds, but thankfully, after following more than 100,000 women for over 25 years, cruciferous vegetables were not associated with elevated colitis risk.

But because of the animal protein and preservative-laden processed foods, the standard American diet may have five or six times more sulfur than a diet centered around unprocessed plant foods, which may help explain the rarity of inflammatory bowel disease among those eating traditional whole food plant-based diets.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to OpenClips via Pixabay.

Doctor's Note

More than 35 years ago, studies started implicating sulfur dioxide preservatives in the exacerbation of asthma. This so-called “sulfite-sensitivity” seems to affect only about 1 in 2,000 people, so I recommended those with asthma avoid it, but otherwise I considered the preservative harmless. I am now not so sure, and advise people to avoid it when possible. How could companies just add things to foods without adequate safety testing? See Who Determines if Food Additives are Safe? For other additives that may be a problem, see Titanium Dioxide & Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Is Carrageenan Safe?

For more on the relationship between hydrogen sulfide and inflammatory bowel disease, see my video Preventing Ulcerative Colitis with Diet. More on this epic fermentation battle in our gut in Stool pH and Colon Cancer.

Does the sulfur-containing amino acid methionine sound familiar? You may remember it from such hits as Starving Cancer with Methionine Restriction and Methionine Restriction as a Life Extension Strategy.

These short-chain fatty acids released by our good bacteria when we eat fiber and resistant starches is what may be behind the second meal effect: Beans and the Second Meal Effect.

What about Crohn’s? Glad you asked! See Preventing Crohn’s Disease With Diet and Dietary Treatment of Crohn’s Disease.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

90 responses to “Bowel Wars: Hydrogen Sulfide vs. Butyrate

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  1. Recently started drinking store bought almond milk. The label says it contains “vitamin A (synthetic), folic acid (synthetic) and added selenium, magnesium and calcium- as well as B12 and vitamin D-2. All the brands at Whole Foods add these supplements. My question: are these small doses of “A” and folic acid safe to ingest on a day to day vegan diet? And what about the added minerals, are they natural to our body in supplemental form? I could make my own almond milk, but store bought is often convenient and maybe these supplements are a good thing?




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    1. Everytime I pick up a carton of almond milk and read the ingredients, I put it back. There’s just too much “stuff” in there I don’t need or want. Instead, why not just eat (*almost) raw almonds.
      *(raw almonds are illegal in the US)




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      1. I make almond milk the easy way. Just toss them in a high-powered blender with water, maybe a few dates and some vanilla, and sometimes with cashews.
        Don’t bother with the ridiculous straining through a nut milk bag and the waste of all that almond solids. It settles in the pitcher and in a glass or bowl. But so what. Just shake the pitcher and keep a spoon in the glass while you drink it..




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        1. Sounds like a great recipe. Thank you. It really is a shame we can no longer buy raw almonds from the US, but like most things in life, we haven’t the choice.




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        2. I rarely strain things either, don’t want to miss out on any nutrients that I paid for! Besides, I always thought anything left like little chopped up almonds would taste good in breakfast cereal anyway :)




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    2. Hi Nevo. I think you mention great points about fortified foods. I would suggest foods like plant-milks or other fortified foods (cereals, nutritional yeast) are not as risky as actual daily multivitamins. Many of these fortified foods may offer some advantages for those who lack proper nutrition throughout the day. You could see where you fall short (if at all) from micronutrients and go from there. I agree that high doses of minerals (iron, copper) are probably more risky. In short, if you’re concerned about the fortified stuff than avoid it and make certain you obtain everything from whole foods (still take B12), but I try to be practical and feel fortified plant-milk is of little worry for most. Besides, many folks may have a hard time obtaining enough calcium and B12, therefore a cup of fortified almond milk could help.




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      1. Thank you, but does the data show that man-made (formulated and derived) calcium is safe for humans? I’ve read studies that say it is not (calcified arteries, and other scary stuff). I assume humans got their calcium from plants, and that this fortification is just an experiment with unknown consequences. You mention fortified plant-milks are of little worry for most, but all the vegan doctors I follow (the ones we all know about here) state to avoid folic acid, and now someone posted the other day that Mcdougall preaching against Vitamin D supplements —– he thinks they are wrong and harmful. So I am wondering what has you convinced these fortified dairy-free plant-milks are “Of little worry to most.”? Thanks. I am wondering if your opinion is based on the scientific evidence Dr. Greger has studied, or is it on something else?




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        1. Calcium supplements have been shown to be harmful here increase prostate cancer risk. The largest intervention study on a vegan diet that I know of showed better overall nutrient intake, but calcium was one nutrient that was very low Nutrient intake in the GEICO multicenter trial: the effects of a multicomponent worksite intervention. You can certainly avoid. Sure, small amounts of these potentially harmful vitamins (vitamin E, D, and folic acid) are found but I have yet to see a study talking about the dangers of plant-milk. How having fortified plant-milk can lead to an early death. Never seen anything like that. I think making your own plant-milks may be best, and you are right to obtain calcium from whole foods. That is great. Clearly you are very educated on this :) When I say of little worry to most I think of it like carrageenan. No, we don’t want tons of carrageenan in the diet, but if there is some in healthful foods then we may not want to avoid that product completely.




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          1. Hey, thank you Joseph. I am not surprised that studies have not been done on the plant-based milks, but calling these “plant-based milks” by the industry (as well us all of us here (me included)) is probably misguiding and missing the point to the big picture here : store bought plant-based milks are not plant-based milks, they are “plant-based milks with synthetic vitamin pills mixed in – and also non-food sources of minerals mixed in”. Either take your pill in a little marble sized factory made form, or let the the food manufacturer put it in there (the pill) in the factory. It’s all the same, and from this I think we should be safe to conclude there are serious red-flags out there regarding eating fortified grains, milks, and other stuff. Most of the stuff we read just is published studies that show the good studies.




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          2. I have used Silk Soymilk and other commercial “organic” soymilks daily for years. I recently became concerned about what was happening in my body with all that calcium. Silk recently went from 30% RDA calcium to 45% in an 8 oz. glass. Disgusting! I’m suspicious of possible kidney stones and joint pain due to so much calcium. Walking and weight bearing exercise are the best, proven ways to prevent osteoporosis caused by the body of seniors doing bone calcium dumping




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            1. The body says “Hey no serious weight bearing demands here in this chair most all day (see Wollf’s law in orthopaedics); why am I lugging such heavy bones; I think I’ll lighten up!” By the way, spread the word, Westsoy Soymilk has no added vitamins or minerals.




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      2. I don’t agree that ordinary, daily multivitamins are “risky” and think that many people advocating whole food diets (like myself) are biased against supplements they consider “unnatural”. As I wrote in a comment to an obviously biased video on mutivitamins, multivitamins have actually been shown to significantly decrease age-related macular degeneration and cancer incidence in a very high quality study of male physicians (PHSII). This study has also shown a non-significant decrease in all-cause mortality. This is in agreement with most epidemiological studies associating multivitamin use with modest beneficial effects. One may conclude from this evidence that the effect is very modest (compared to diet and other lifestyle factors) and hence consider multivitamins “a waste of money” (I don’t think so – a nickel a day for ~10% lower risk of cancer and macular degeneration seems like a very good deal to me) but certainly not that they pose any risk – at least not in the case of iron-free RDA-dose multivitamins similar to the Centrum used in PHSII.




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      3. It is all relative… if you are replacing dairy with plant milks I would say that health wise a positive step. Learning to read labels and purchasing foods with less additives is generally good. You would expect the amount of persistent organic pollutants to be higher in dairy than in plant milks. The track record for consumption of isolated nutrients in the absence of confirmed deficiency is poor… exception being Vitamin B12. There is one Soy milk product which has only two ingredients on the label… soy beans, water. Calcium is generally not a problem. Folks worried about the strength of their bones would do more in my opinion to focus on getting 150 minutes of weight bearing activity in lieu of thinking that taking calcium pills will fortify their bones… studies don’t on the whole support this. The best source for understanding this issue is Building Bone Vitality by Amy Lanou.




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  2. A correction: I don’t know about the U.S. legislation, but organic wine is regularly sulphurated the EU. This is simply because non-sulphurated wine may turn bad very quickly and there is no real alternative to sulphur as a preserving agent to prevent the formation of highly toxic acetaldehyde – so a tiny amount of sulphur clearly seems the lesser evil here.




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        1. I gave you a thumbs up and did not mean to. I have given up alcohol and with very good reason. Alcohol is toxic. I will keep having sex with my wife and for very good reasons. Sex is good for our health when done right.




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        2. I can’t really tell if you are being sarcastic or not so I am just going to assume that you are. I would add would add to your comment “Yeah, and don’t have sex, too – just think of all those sexually transmitted diseases…. that come from premarital sex” So just stay away from premarital sex and you are good. Now it’s a serious comment.




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    1. Interesting! Thanks for sharing. I think no matter what acetaldehyde is produced from alcohol and the body must detox it, sulfur or not.




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      1. Yes it is, but it can also be produced (sometimes in dangerous quantities) by microbes present in the wine, which is prevented by sulphuration.

        Anyway, I think the overall risk/benefit-relation is very favorable as long as one sticks to one small glas of (preferably) red wine a day with a meal.




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      2. It may be interesting to know that sulphuration of wine is not a modern invention but in fact one of the oldest preservation methods known to men and was rountinely practiced by the ancient Greeks and Romans (besides sulphur they also added resins for that purpuse – hence the famous retsina). That fact that it has stood the test of time for several thousand years suggest that it probably makes some sense.




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      3. A possible explanation for beneficial effects of moderate alcohol consumption may have been uncovered only recently. Apparently, alcohol is not only metabolized to detrimental compounds like acetaldehyde, but also facilitates the endogenous production of – believe it or not – hydroxytrosol (yes, that highly beneficial antioxidant phenol found in olives and olive oil!). It also seems to specifically facilitate the hydroxylation of dietary tyrosol and related phenols – a remarkable synergy which may explain a key health benefit of the Mediterranean diet (wine & olive oil).

        1. Pérez-Mañá et al. Ethanol induces hydroxytyrosol formation in humans. Pharmacol Res. 2015 Mar 20;95-96C:27-33.
        2. Pérez-Mañá et al. Moderate consumption of wine, through both its phenolic compounds and alcohol content, promotes hydroxytyrosol endogenous generation in humans. A randomized controlled trial, Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Feb 24.




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        1. Interesting. There are probably a lot of confounders in the one or two glasses of red wine and health benefits. Some scientists went through hundreds of receipts from a big supermarket and it showed a clear trend – the customers who bought wine also bought the most fruit and vegetables. Not a big significant study, but an interesting observation. And of course the French Paradox – they don’t eat greasy burgers and lard fries size XXL in a fast food joint drinking Pinot Noir. That said I think (hope) that a little wine offers some health benefits :-)




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          1. Charzie, I totally agree. Wine and beer are probably the most ancient of all fermented foods.

            Of course there are a lot of confounders with regard to wine consumption. People who regularly drink wine are more likely to eat a healthy (Mediterranean) diet, are more affluent, better educated and so on. However, health benefits have also been observed after extensive correction for such factors and for moderate consumption of other types of alhocol as well, although less consistent.

            Those studies give a fascinating lead for understanding the observed health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption in general, and wine in particular. I wonder why we haven’t seen any media headlines yet, such as “Alcohol makes your body produce its own extra virgin olive oil” ;)

            Oh, by the way, a little known fact about hydroxytyrosol is that naturally fermented olives actually contain much more of it (about ten times as much by weight, which is a hundred times as much by calories) than even extra virgin olive oil, as the fermentation actually produces hydroxytyrosol from phenolic precursors such as oleuropein.

            “Californa-style” processed olives, however (basically green olives turned black by oxidizing them in tanks with bubbling air and then dying them with iron salts) contain almost none, as the phenols are irreversibly bound to the added iron:

            Charoenprasert S., Mitchell A. Factors Influencing Phenolic Compounds in Table Olives (Oleaeuropaea). J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jul 25;60(29):7081-95.

            So much for Americans trying to improve on European traditions…




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            1. So my real healthful canned black olives stabilized with ferrous gluconate are another load of unhealthy processed crap? I let the BPA leaching can lining go…but now the healthy phenols just aren’t there?

              I think I’ll move to France with all the other coneheads. At least the food might be sort of healthy…




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              1. Sorry to disenchant your industrially processed olives ;)

                You may not need to move to France, though. I’m pretty sure that you can find good quality, traditionally fermented olives in the US. First of all, green olives always retain a fair amount of phenols. When buying black olives, you will certainly find some without added iron gluconate. Even if you can’t always trust the ingredient list, you can trust your eyes. Naturally ripened olives are never uniformly black, they always have some grayish speckels or slight variations in color (that’s why they are treatened with iron gluconate: to give them the uniformely black color customers in the US have come to expect).

                Greek kalamata olives are a good example how natural black olives should look like. Other variesties may have a deeper black color, but never as uniformely as olives dyed with iron.




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          1. Alcohol itself is a toxin, the floaty, warm buzzy feelings that people get from alcohol are technically the effects of being mildly poisoned, which is why once you drink even more it can become fatal. There may be healthy compounds in alcoholic beverages from the fermentation but alcohol isn’t one of them.




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  3. I have asthma and avoid wines due to sulphates, however, never thought about the raisins and dried blueberries I put in my daily oatmeal . . . Learn something every day on this website. Thanks!




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    1. I also avoid sulphates, because they give me migranes. Good news on the raisins–only the golden raisins contain sulphates. Regular raisins are dark because no sulphates were used to preserve the color.




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      1. Unless your raisins, grapes wine are ORGANIC ; they are heavily sprayed with fluorinated fungicide & pesticide which concentrates when dried. This is why dogs that eat a box of raisins DIE from vomiting,diarrhea, dehydration, kidney failure & painful death as they are more sensitive to acute fluoride poisoning. Same goes for chocolate: fluorine fumigated. F i9s more toxic than lead & only slightly less toxic that arsenic as per it’s position on the periodic table. Water fluoridation is a hazardous waste disposal scheme by the industries that produce it. NEVER FDA approved either. http://www.fluoridealert.org




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        1. Yup, I hear ya. We only buy organic and avoid fluoridated anything. Gotta also watch out for fluoride in antibiotics (fluoroquinolones).




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    1. It could be. Dr. Greger mentions the best probiotics in foods. I see no problem taking them if you feel (or doctor is asking) they could be helpful. Typically a high fiber diet produces plenty of prebiotics, which can feed the probiotics already in the gut. During special circumstances they may be more useful. How Should I Take Probiotics? may also be a helpful read. See if these help? Thanks!




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  4. So when detective Rosewood (Beverly Hills Cop, 1984) said: “Wow. You know, it says here that by the time the average American is fifty, he
    has five pounds of undigested red meat in his bowels” – he was (almost) right all those years ago……. :-)




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    1. That’s a good question. I am not familiar with that supplements and did not find anything on sulfur dioxide gas and MSM.




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    1. It’s in butter! The largest natural source of butyric acid is butter (produced by the bacteria in the cow’s rumen during fermentation of fiber). The fiber is what’s important here. The break down of fiber by our gut microbes provides us with way more benefits than the butyrate alone.




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    2. It is better produced in situ by colonic bacteria fostered or fed prebioticly with a plant based diet PBD. Butyrate is metabolized by our colon cells so promoting their health. It is important to note that we all have a population of bacteria in our bodies which outnumber our own cells by a factor of 10/1. We want health promoting bacteria present. A PBD fosters a healthy microbiome (the name given to this population). We might also need to ingest orally certain bacteria probioticly to foster retinol (active Vitamin A), b-vitamin production (especially b12), digestion of anti-nutrients such as oxalic acid and phytic acid, and immune stimulating effects.




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  5. So how can we explain people who are on a whole food plant based diet with little or no processed food who pass noxious hydrogen sulfide gas? A conundrum :-D




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    1. Even as a kid growing up in the North of England, I knew that eating large amounts of cabbage and brussels sprouts had “consequences” . These were dietary staples and the effects were common knowledge at the time. Beans, onions, garlic etc are all high in sulphur too.




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      1. Hi Tom, I am a volunteer with Dr. Greger. While foods like cabbage, brussel sprouts, beans, etc. do contain sulphur, the potential negative effects are likely nullified by the resistant starch and fiber that makes it down to the colon. The benefits of eating these foods is overwhelming. I hope you don’t stop eating these foods because of the “consequences”, as most of the consequences are health-promoting.




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        1. Thanks Cody. No, Brussels sprouts are a personal favourite of mine and I like red cabbage in my salads. But eating large amounts of these or beans can make you unwelcome in lifts and other confined spaces.




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  6. I bought a case of Greek figs last night. They have Sulfites added. I am a vegan. Is this amount of Sulfites okay (I may eat a quarter pound of figs in a day)?




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    1. Perhaps best to avoid sulfites. Any unnecessary additive is probably best to leave out of the diet. However if you have no allergy to them I see no major concern. Maybe look for sulfur-free dates once this batch is gone? I know dates can be an amazing food based on Dr. Greger’s date video.




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        1. Hmmm I am not sure. I looked on pubmed but didn’t see any studies. I wouldn’t think soaking helps, as the entire fruit is coated with sulfur dioxide thus the bright color. Who knows I could be wrong and soaking may reduce sulfur a bit.




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          1. Do you have any suggestions for another type of vegan snack (to avoid sulfides) we could try?
            Or would organic dried fruit be any better? This video (& discussion) was very informative !




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            1. Most dried fruits can be bought without sulfur now. For example, I buy dried apricots from Sprouts Market without sulfur. First, they don’t look good, which I don’t care. Second, it’s a lot more expensive than the sulfured ones.




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              1. Thanks Joseph and MattC, I checked the packaging of the sultanas and cranberries we usually get, they only seem to contain vegetable oil. They were helpful as a substitute when we stopped having any sugary snacks.
                But I will keep looking & probably need to broaden the range of whole food snack we consume.
                It might be worth researching how to make our own rice crackers as well.




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            2. Yes. There are plenty of dried fruits without sulfur dioxide. Of course fresh fruit is the perfect “fast food” other things like hummus, veggies, whole grain pita, rice cakes, etc are great to have around, but snack preferences vary. I am a huge fan of air-popped popcorn! Good luck




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  7. Hey, this is off-topic but I wanted to let all my NF friends know – right now the documentary “Cowspiracy” is on sale. The digital download (purchase, not rental) is marked down from $10 to $1 in honor of Earth Day last week. And you can gift it to as many people as you want, for $1 each by entering their email addresses. :)

    http://www.cowspiracy.com/




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  8. AKKK!
    When I met Dr. Greger in Houston in February I asked him about the possibility of heavy metals in Amla powder I get at the Indian market and pesticides on the non-organic goji berries I get at the Asian market. I never thought to ask about sulfer dioxide. After watching this video I ran to the pantry and found this on the goji berries, “Allergen Warning: Contains Sulfites”.
    QUESTIONS: can I wash it off? Will rinsing them also wash off the good stuff? Is the amount of sulfer dioxide negligible? Do the benefits outweigh the risks or visa-versa?




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  9. Even though Dr. G said cruciferous veggies are not associated with bowel disease, it still seems smart to not eat too much high-sulfur plant food, as plenty of sulfide gases can get produced from it. Lower sulfur plant food seems to be the ideal.




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    1. Hi Fidel, decreasing consumption of sulfur-containing vegetables to reduce cancer is an interesting but simplistic idea, since it we already know it does not agree with the evidence. Cruciferous and allium vegetables are among the most potent health-promoting (and specifically cancer-fighting) foods that we know of.

      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/cruciferous-vegetables/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/onions/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/garlic/




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  10. Interesting study on Science Digest today reporting a radical shift in risk factors of colon cancer in two groups: African-Americans in this country and rural South Africans. They swapped diets and found significant improvement (with the African diet) and deterioration with the American diet. One interesting point was that at the start of the study almost half the American subjects had polyps while none of the Africans did.




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  11. I commented in a reply to a comment but I don’t know if that is generally noticeable so let me restate: In reference to plant milks being undesirably supplemented with vitamins and calcium: Westsoy makes an organic Soymilk with no added vitamins or minerals. I’m not employed by them (!!! I’m a Physical Therapist Assistant) but I am happy to be able to enjoy Soymilk again after quitting for some time due to concerns relative to this topic.




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  12. Hydrogen sulfide gas produced from high sulfur plant foods could be harmful but only those with colonic sulfide-producing bacteria need to be concerned about that, and that is about 50% of people. Those who do have those bacteria could cut back on the high sulfur foods. Eating enough fermentable carbohydrates can help keep numbers of sulfide-producing bacteria down, according to gg.gg/D-piger .




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    1. I think it depends. Kimchi may significantly increase cancer risk. Kombucha may not have the health benefits that are highly touted on the label. Apple cider vinegar is still okay, but don’t mess with the pills. Are kimchi and sauerkraut harmful? It seems a little bit of sauerkraut is okay, but there is not much research. Lastly, I like this powerpoint from a dietitian from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle presenting at AICR on fermented and picked foods on cancer risk.




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    1. The Weston Price Foundation is notorious for promoting whacky ideas about nutrition and health. Cranks is a kind description. Dangerous cranks is probably more accurate. The WPF had to rely on a study of poverty stricken rural Chadians with inadequate and restricted diets to construct this argument. In North America, the Seventh Day Adventist study shows that “vegans” have lower mortality risk than meat eaters so how dangerously low in sulphur can their diets possibly be? Methionine is a key factor in sulphur synthesis but high methionine intake has risks
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/methionine-restriction-as-a-life-extension-strategy/

      The body makes most of the sulphur it needs from protein in the diet. There is no evidence that “vegans” do not obtain adequate protein from their diets. However, there is also sulphur in a wide range of foods including cabbage, spinach, brussels sprouts, beans, onions etc You can also take vegetarian glucosamine sulphate supplements if you are concerned.
      http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/info/books-phds/books/foodfacts/html/data/data5g.html




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  13. Dear nutritionfacts.org,

    I was wondering about black salt (kala namak, it’s indian), since vegan recipes often propose this to mimic the taste of eggs. The reason it resembles an eggy taste, is that it contains sulfur. However, sulfur was not to great for ones health? On the other hand, certain foods that contain sulpur were not found to have a negative impact on health?

    Do you know anything about black salt, has any research been done or do you have recommendations?

    Thank you so much. Love your website, good work!

    Best regards,

    Coen Hendrix (a vegan from holland)




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    1. Hi Dutch Vegan. Thanks for reposting. I tried searching for black salt using the Indian name (and others) with no avail. I just don’t think it’s been researched enough. It may be like Himalayan salt. ​People often claim sea salt or whatever is healthier, but sodium is sodium and the literature suggests a low sodium intake.




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  14. question for MD ! can poorly functioning pancreas and stomach make it easier for the food to get undigested to colon ? therefore if someone have (like me) have extreme indigestion and very stinky (rotten eggs) gas shoudl get test for pancreas function ? what tests would you reccomend ? greetz from Poland




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  15. Dear Dr. Greger and team,

    thanks for that great video! Just saw it recently and wondered: What about sulfur-containing plants like nuts and soya? Should you avoid nuts and soya products (like tofu and soya yoghurt) when you have an ulcerative colitis?

    Is there a chance to get rid of ulcerative colitis anyway?

    Many thanks and best regards

    Michael




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  16. We are often taught that we shouldn’t eat two hoursish before going to bed because it cause damage
    to your bowel, and some digestion problems. Is that true?




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    1. Eating close to bedtime can cause reflux and therefore esophageal problems. I have never heard of it affecting the large intestine at all.




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    2. Thank you for your interesting question. I believe the data on best time to eat is still emerging. There are data to support eating a larger meal earlier in the day to aid weight loss as described in this paper https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23357955. In addition, there is this recent study that shows that gut microbes have a circadian rhythm and are influenced by the time of eating.http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/106/5/1220.long. However, my understanding of the field is that is is an emerging area of research and we don’t yet have all the answers




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